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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: April 13, 2017, 06:59:47 AM
 Situation Reports
April 13, 2017 | 00:21 GMT Print

The North Korean government appears to be preparing for a nuclear test at the Punggye-ri test site, according to an April 12 report by 38 North, a program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, part of Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. government believes a test could come the morning of April 15 local time, the White House bureau chief for Voice of America said via Twitter. April 15 is a politically significant date for Pyongyang because it marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. An April 12 editorial in the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper that sometimes reflects the opinions of the country's leaders, cautioned that Beijing may allow tougher U.N. sanctions against North Korea should it carry out another nuclear test.
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Tillerson-Putin meeting on: April 13, 2017, 06:56:34 AM
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held marathon meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on April 12. The length of the meetings and the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Tillerson an audience is notable in and of itself, given the preceding back and forth between the White House and the Kremlin on whether Tillerson would in fact meet the Russian head of state.
In their comments following the meeting, both Lavrov and Tillerson said that substantive progress had been made in the U.S.-Russia dialogue. Following the April 4 attack on a Syrian airbase in response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack, Russia suspended a critical deconfliction agreement with the United States, designed to prevent collisions on the battlefield. Going into today's talks, Russia wielded the power of being able to act as a spoiler in Syria at a time when the United States is trying to focus on the fight against the Islamic State, and on the impending offensive against the militant bastion of Raqqa. Lavrov said in the post-meeting press conference that he and Tillerson discussed putting the deconfliction agreement "back on track." Meanwhile, the United States has backed off its allegations that Russia had advance warning — and covered up its knowledge — of a Syrian plan to launch a chemical weapons attack. Washington is also toning down threats of expanded sanctions on Russia.
Ultimately, the United States still wants to avoid expanding the scope of its mission in Syria, though Russia made clear ahead of the meeting with Tillerson that events on the ground could make that difficult. Putin said April 11 that he had knowledge that another chemical weapons attack is being planned in the southern suburbs of Damascus, maintaining that the chemical attacks are rebel actions meant to undermine the legitimacy of the Syrian government.
The United States will not tolerate certain activities by the Russia-backed Syrian government, including the use of nerve agents against civilians. (Notably, the Syrian government has regularly carried out attacks with chemicals that don't target the central nervous system, but the United States is not including those attacks in the current definition of its "red line".) Ultimately, the United States wants a final settlement of the Syrian civil war, and that means deciding whether to tolerate Bashar al-Assad as a leader or not.
The two countries are at least making the crucial first step of clarifying their priorities. For now, it seems that a temporary de-escalation in Syria has been agreed upon, which will enable the United States to better manage its risks on the battlefield.  Russia will meanwhile attempt to use this temporary and partial agreement to further the dialogue with the United States on other issues, including NATO, the situation in Ukraine, and sanctions. On the latter, Tillerson said that sanctions could even be added if evidence emerges of Russian interference in the U.S. election. It is still uncertain whether the United States would even entertain the idea of broader negotiations with Russia. There is certainly enough playing out on the global stage to continue to drive tensions between the two sides, but this conciliatory meeting provided the opportunity for much-needed de-escalation, even if such a respite is temporary in nature.
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Henninger: The Trump Presidency Begins on: April 13, 2017, 06:43:04 AM
The Trump Presidency Begins
A presidency that was almost too much fun has taken a clear turn to the serious.
President Trump and Chinese President Xi in Palm Beach, Fla., April 7.
President Trump and Chinese President Xi in Palm Beach, Fla., April 7. Photo: Associated Press
By Daniel Henninger
Updated April 13, 2017 7:19 a.m. ET

Instead of “The Trump Presidency Begins,” an alternative headline for this column might have been “Trump’s Presidency Begins.” Each describes a different reality.

Until recently, “Trump’s presidency” has been about one thing—Donald Trump. It’s been Trump 24/7. Mr. Trump owned the presidency the way Mr. Trump owns a tower on Fifth Avenue. For better and for worse, Trump’s presidency was all about him.

In the past few weeks—the Gorsuch appointment, the Syrian strike, the meeting with China’s Xi Jinping —we are finally seeing the beginning of the real Trump presidency.

Like all the others dating back to George Washington, the presidency is not an object captured by one person; it is an office held in trust for the people of the United States.

The Trump-centric phenomenon of these early days is the product of our celebrity-centric times, not least the presidency. He drove it with social media, and the media torrents washed back over him.

There are some realities, though, that the media torrents haven’t washed away yet. America’s institutions, its politics and the distant world are still too large for anyone to hold and command alone. That is the lesson of recent days.

Neil Gorsuch was nominated by Mr. Trump to fill the ninth seat on the Supreme Court. What followed was a mighty political struggle. The opposition to Judge Gorsuch, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, revealed that the legal philosophies of progressives and conservatives have arrived at incompatibility.

Confirming Judge Gorsuch required the Trump presidency to recede so its political allies could rise and execute. The legislative branch eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, thereby preserving the president’s prerogatives.

While the Gorsuch drama played out on the Senate floor, Mr. Trump met at Mar-a-Lago with China’s Xi Jinping, who traveled nearly 8,000 miles to meet the American president. Possibly, the Chinese thought that Muhammad going to the mountain would flatter the flatterable Mr. Trump. Instead, the strikingly low-key meeting acknowledged the high stakes for the two nations and the world.

On Wednesday, Mr. Xi called the president to discuss North Korea again. That no doubt had something to do with Mr. Trump’s soufflé surprise over dinner with Mr. Xi—a missile strike against an Assad airfield and chemical-weapons depot in Syria.

Unlike the assassination of Osama bin Laden, when the mission details leaked out overnight, there was no self-congratulatory media dump out of the White House of this presumably ultra-media-conscious president. Just a blow to the Middle East status quo.

For our purposes, the important thing isn’t the strike but what came before. It requires little imagination to guess the import of the conversations about operational and political details between the president and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis —former head of the U.S.’s Middle Eastern Central Command—and his national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster. As Dorothy said to Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

Days before the Syrian strike, Mr. Trump with little fanfare met two Middle Eastern leaders crucial to U.S. strategy for the region—President Sisi of Egypt and Jordan’s King Abdullah. In March, he hosted a working lunch for Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Salman, creator of the 41-state Arab coalition to fight Islamic State. A successful presidential foreign policy needs allies. Watch this space.

There has been the difficult matter of the Trump-Putin mutual admiration society. Over the past week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Russia may have been “complicit” in the Syrian gas attack. Mr. Tillerson flew to Moscow for a tough chat Wednesday with Mr. Putin. Any Putin investment in the U.S. election is deep in the red right now.

One reads that the Trump White House’s communication shop is up late imagining bullet points for the president’s “first 100 days.” One reads that Mr. Trump is arbitrating disputes between his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his Cromwellian counselor Steve Bannon over the presidency’s proper direction.

This isn’t complicated. There was only one Trump promise—Make America Great Again. If you type that phrase into Google Translate, this is what should appear: Get the American economic engine retuned or pack it in. Every other pet peeve or project is secondary.

There are two levers for achieving this goal: tax policy and deregulation. To get there, the Trump presidency just inserted two key players.

Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, an expert on what makes a tax code productive, becomes chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Neomi Rao, director of George Mason University’s gloriously named Center for the Study of the Administrative State, became the Trump White House’s czarina of regulation. A Chicago Law grad.

We have arrived in the foothills of the Trump presidency, and warnings no doubt abound. Not least is the Republican obsession with the sport of cliff-diving over dry land. What’s important is that a presidency that was almost too much fun has taken a turn for the serious.

104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: April 13, 2017, 06:13:32 AM
Not necessary, but that the Mexican number is lower than the US number does surprise.

Anyway, I find this 95% datum to be quite useful in unbalancing those who allege/babble about income disparity. grin
105  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Prisoner ingenuity on: April 13, 2017, 06:11:03 AM
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Putin & Erdogan on: April 12, 2017, 10:00:58 PM

Putin and Erdogan: Addicted to Power
Geopolitical Weekly
April 11, 2017 | 08:00 GMT Print
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Not only do the pasts and motivations of the Russian and Turkish leaders have a great deal in common, but their geopolitical destinies are also deeply intertwined. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Reva Goujon

Absolute power is both reviled and revered. Most in the West will look aghast at blatant power grabs, smirk at narcissistic acts of self-promotion and regularly admonish leaders engaging in tyrannical behavior. But many others will just as easily look in awe at a leader who embodies sheer power. When a country's politics have been more volatile than just, people will more naturally crave a leader who oozes confidence and manifests strength. They will more willfully submit to propaganda, wanting to neither see nor hear stories of evil that can tarnish the image they hold of their protector.

This dichotomy defines two highly consequential leaders of our time: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two men who not only have pasts and motivations with a great deal in common, but whose geopolitical destinies are also deeply intertwined.
Born With a Vengeance

    Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.

    — Niccolo Machiavelli

Putin and Erdogan were born — and rule — with a vengeance rooted in their personal and national upbringings.

Erdogan's most formative years took place in the grimy district of Kasimpasa, on the edge of the Golden Horn waterway dividing European Istanbul, where poor residents looked up the hill with reproach at the wealthy and hip Taksim district, the symbolic center of the Europeanized elite. Erdogan was raised in a conservative family and attended a religious high school, a social environment that made him leery of prideful secular Turks drinking raki in the bars lining Istanbul's streets. He earned his street smarts making extra money selling Turkish snacks in the rough districts of Istanbul, but he always had bigger ambitions. A childhood friend of Erdogan's noted in the documentary "The Making of a Sultan: The Rise of Erdogan" that the young Tayyip, who loved reciting poetry, would stand in empty boats at the docks and deliver speeches to an imaginary audience, honing his oratory skills. Erdogan would later put those skills to use in rallying millions of conservative Turks who were sick of being sidelined from power by Westernized secular elites and who wanted their turn at the country's helm.

Putin, meanwhile, was raised in a dilapidated apartment building in the war-battered city of St. Petersburg (what was then Leningrad). There was no hot water, and only a single stinking toilet. The communal kitchen was always overcrowded with families squabbling over what little food there was to eat. Early accounts of Putin paint him as a thuggish kid, learning early on that an oversized image of strength was key to survival as he scrapped with other kids in rough neighborhoods. One of the few but more revealing anecdotes from Putin's childhood is written in his carefully curated autobiography, First Person.

    There, on that stair landing, I got a quick and lasting lesson in the meaning of the word cornered. There were hordes of rats in the front entryway. My friends and I used to chase them around with sticks. Once I spotted a huge rat and pursued it down the hall until I drove it into a corner. It had nowhere to run. Suddenly it lashed around and threw itself at me. I was surprised and frightened. Now the rat was chasing me. It jumped across the landing and down the stairs. Luckily, I was a little faster and managed to slam the door shut in its nose.

For young Volodya, even a cornered rat will find a way to fight back in a last gasp for survival. This was a lesson that both leaders carried with them in internalizing their national histories.
The West Is Not the Answer

Erdogan, born in 1954, and Putin, born in 1952, grew up in shaky postwar years, never forgetting what it meant to have their countries ravaged from within by insurrection and from beyond by bigger Western powers. Neither fully buy into the idea that their countries will have brighter and more stable futures simply by copying and pasting a template from the West. Not only is this approach unnatural, in their view, but it is also dangerous. For Erdogan, it is even impious.

Several statements made by Erdogan early in his political career reveal his belief that Turkey's national spirit stems from its Islamic heritage, and that the Turkish Republic's embrace of secularism following the fall of the Ottoman Empire was more an aberration than a logical decision in state-building. In a 1996 interview with the daily Milliyet newspaper, a defensive Erdogan is repeatedly asked by the fiercely secular journalist Nilgun Cerrahoglu what his Welfare Party (the predecessor to the Justice and Development Party) actually stood for when it came to religion. Erdogan responded, "Time will tell," and said his party's worldview rested on a system that "depends on the values of our native culture and the spirit of the nation. It is an understanding based on Islam."

Erdogan acknowledges that, pragmatically, Turkey must trade and cooperate on security with the West through mechanisms like its customs union with the European Union and through NATO. But he, along with many of his Kemalist counterparts, lives with the trauma of the draconian Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire and harbors a deep distrust toward Western powers that he accuses of hoping to divide and weaken Turkey. Still, that is where the common ground between Erdogan and the Kemalists ends. Erdogan fundamentally disagrees with the idea that Turkey's national identity is somehow rooted in the West. His is a view that polarizes at least half of his countrymen, who look to the West for inspiration to grow and modernize Turkey. Erdogan nonetheless believes that others, even his most ardent opponents, will eventually come to agree with him once they rediscover their Muslim roots.

Putin shares Erdogan's paranoia of the West. Putin once said that,

    "... the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself."

From his KGB posting in 1985-89 in Dresden, where he was charged with stealing Western technology to help Russia catch up with the West, he saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, witnessed the spread of NATO and the European Union into former Warsaw Pact countries, personally fended off riots against his Soviet outpost and then returned to a country in chaos following Mikhail Gorbachev's experiments in liberalization (glasnost and perestroika). He saw the West walk over a weak and embattled Boris Yeltsin, who tried and failed first to prevent NATO from launching a war against Russian-allied Serbs in 1998 and then to secure a role for Russia in the Kosovo peacekeeping mission that followed the war. Putin's Russia needed to be saved, and Putin designated himself as its savior. While Erdogan saw his mission to save Turkey from Western secularists, Putin first went after Russia's oligarchs, who had used an economic opening with the West to plunder the country.
Democracy: A Tool and a Nuisance

For those who carry a deep conviction that they are saving their nation from tragedy and sin, the concept of democracy tends to hold little weight. For Erdogan and Putin, democracy is a tool for gaining power — and a nuisance to navigate once you have it.

In the same 1996 Milliyet interview, Erdogan famously said that "democracy is a means, not an end." He also casually noted that "democracy is a tramway — you climb on to get where you want to go, and then you climb off." His repeated assertion that "laws are made by human beings" implies that laws can easily be lifted to comport with his own vision for the republic. Similarly, Erdogan's inheritance of Turkey's EU accession bid was used as a means to assuage Western onlookers and his own political opponents that Turkey would still keep a foothold in the West, even though Erdogan likely had little expectation of fully adhering to the bloc's democratic norms to complete the accession process.

Putin has also has shown his repugnance for Western lectures on democracy. As he has asserted time and time again, "democracy cannot be exported from one country to another, like you cannot exports revolutions or ideology." In Putin's view, democracy must be a product of a society's developments with its own nuances and timeline. In other words, Russia cannot be rushed and Putin is not about to allow overzealous experimentation in democratization and economic liberalization to shatter Russia once again.

But democracy was a useful tool to build an empire. Indeed, both leaders took similar paths to rise to power and are employing similar tactics to hold onto it. Both worked diligently to mask their more politically unpalatable pasts. Putin commissioned documentaries and biographies to tone down misgivings over his KGB history while Erdogan took care early on to cultivate an image as a "middle-path" Muslim, not an avowed Islamist bent on radically transforming the government. While Putin used his position as deputy mayor and his allies in St Petersburg in the late 1990s to quietly work his way through the corridors of the Kremlin elite, Erdogan placed himself in the public spotlight and passed his first big popularity test as mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to1998.

Both men understood deeply the power of patronage. At the start of their political careers, Putin reined in rapacious oligarchs to earn the people's trust and Erdogan won hearts and minds in Istanbul when he brought clean water to the city, removed trash collecting on the streets and expanded road networks. Both reached the pinnacle of power at the turn of the century, Putin as president in 2000 (after briefly serving as FSB chief and then prime minister) and Erdogan as prime minister in 2003 (his party rose to power in 2002, but Erdogan was temporarily banned from politics by the military-backed establishment). As soon as they reached the top, they worked rapidly to build up networks of loyalists beneath them. They knew that keeping power meant creating deep dependencies in critical institutions and industries as well as on the streets. They were to be seen as the protectors of their people with the power to both punish and reward.

The price of patronage, of course, was unquestionable loyalty. After gutting the oligarchs, Putin made powerful allies in resurrecting national champions in oil, natural gas, nickel, aluminum, steel, diamonds and gold. Erdogan, meanwhile, commissioned massive infrastructure projects with hefty line items and multiple regulatory layers where side sums could be pocketed at every turn. With the procurement and contracting for these projects centered on himself, Erdogan was able to cultivate a powerful network of construction magnates whose wealth depended almost entirely on the quality of their relationship with the Turkish leader. Both presidents accumulated fantastic wealth over the years (by several estimates, Putin is believed to be among the wealthiest people in the world) and have shamelessly displayed their power through oversized presidential palaces built in their names. Some may find it confusing that leaders can ride to power on an anti-corruption crusade and yet, once in power, openly embody the corruptive rot they once vowed to eliminate. But an authoritarian leader can live with such contradiction as long as he has accumulated enough wealth and power to buy allies as needed and convince those beneath him that the loyal will reap the rewards of his rule.

For Putin and Erdogan, laws that get in the way of power can be changed. When Putin reached his presidential term limit in 2008, he installed his subordinate, Dmitri Medvedev, as president while he took the lesser position of prime minister. A loyal Medvedev dutifully signed a constitutional amendment the same year extending presidential terms from four years to six. Putin predictably returned to the presidency in 2012 and, assuming he can win again in 2018, could remain president for a fourth term until 2024.

Erdogan is in the process of engineering his own executive pirouette to consolidate power. When Erdogan reached his three-term limit as prime minister in 2014, he took the less powerful role of the presidency and installed Ahmet Davutoglu as prime minister. Though Davutoglu was long considered an ardent backer of Erdogan, even he grew tired of being politically bulldozed by the president and eventually resigned in 2016. With Binali Yildirim, a more willing executor of his political will, now in place as prime minister, Erdogan is inches away from radically transforming the country's political system and extending his tenure in the process.

On April 16, Turks will vote in a referendum that calls for placing the weight of executive power in the president's hands. Through the proposed constitutional changes, the prime minister's role would be abolished, a vice presidency would be created, parliamentary and judicial oversight over the presidency and his Cabinet would be diminished, and the president (instead of having to remain politically neutral under the existing law) would be allowed to head up his own political party, thus ensuring that lawmakers and deputies understand that their political futures rest directly on their loyalty to the president. Should the public approve these changes, Erdogan would become the acting executive. He would then be eligible to start from a clean slate in 2019 when his current term ends, able to run for the presidency and serve two more terms, potentially staying in power until 2029. (Erdogan is set on remaining president through 2023, the highly symbolic 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.)
Hold on Tight

Erdogan and Putin are well beyond the power-building phase of their careers. They are now deep in the act of consolidation, employing whatever creative and heavy-handed tactics are needed to keep them in control. This entails everything from constitutional engineering to drastic steps in controlling the media and silencing the opposition. The two leaders are deeply haunted by their recent memories of the Arab Spring, Euromaidan and Gezi Park uprisings. The specter of social upheaval was not their cue to start reforming and appeasing a growing number of dissidents. On the contrary, it provided the impetus to clamp down and use every opportunity — be it a failed coup or a spectacular terrorist attack — to try to eliminate any whiff of dissent while they still have the power to do so. Both hold deep convictions that if they are not there to navigate their countries through troubled waters in the coming years, their nations' very existence will be at stake. If this sounds like gross egoism, take a step into the mind of an authoritarian personality. For all the effort that goes into making our leaders appear like the common man, they are anything but. As neuroscientist Nayef al-Rodhan explains in his article "The Neurochemistry of Power: Implications for Political Change," the primary neurochemical involved in the reward of power is dopamine, the same chemical transmitter responsible for producing a sense of pleasure. "Power activates the very same reward circuitry in the brain and creates an addictive 'high.'" People wired to crave and seek power are in essence feeding an addiction. And if they feel that power slipping, they become more paranoid, less empathetic and more ruthless in how they govern.

Putin and Erdogan are two authoritarian peas in a pod, ruling over territories that are spread across Europe and Asia. Stretched between East and West, the duality of their nations often collides with their worldview, but solipsistic personalities in high power are also wired to stamp out uncomfortable realities that do not conform to their versions of reality. If the West thinks that lectures on human rights will remold them into democratic visionaries, it is deeply mistaken. These leaders are dripping with power and will go to extreme lengths to insulate themselves from competitors at home and abroad. But they are still political mortals at the end of the day. And the problem with remaining in power for a generation is that it increases the risk of encountering a generational wave of resistance. Erdogan saw the Gezi protesters as young hooligans who needed more discipline and direction in life. He will not hesitate to crack down in full force again.

Putin is facing mass protests in the lead-up to Russia's 2018 election as well, and this time, the demonstrations are dominated by young people who lack the historical memory of much harsher Soviet days. For them, Putin is not a protector from chaos; he is the only dictator they've ever known. This is a generation that has social media at its fingertips to rapidly consume and circulate information. A student at a school outside the city of Bryansk, southwest of Moscow, secretly recorded a debate between students in the class and their principal and teachers before leaking it on social media. In the recording, the students flatly rejected the government's nationalistic reasoning on taking Crimea by force and their teacher's defense of the government's crackdown on opposition activists. An excerpt from the recording reads as follows:

    Principal: So you think that life in this country got worse with the arrival of Putin and Medvedev?

    Student 1: No, but they've stayed too long. They've just been there [in power] for too long.

    Student 2: Yeah.

    Principal: Did you live in some other era that I somehow missed? Under whom did you live well? And under Putin and Medvedev things got worse for you?

    Student 2: We've studied history.

    Principal: Naturally.

    Student 2: Well…

    Principal: What does "well" mean? I'm asking you, specifically you: Under what ruler did you live well? What do you mean "well"?

    Student 2: We've only ever had one ruler, actually.

    Principal: You said that things have become worse. But you never lived through the hard years of the 1990s. When, forgive me for saying this, everyone carried around a blade and a firearm, and the country was in chaos. And this was when I was studying in college! This was when it was scary to go out into the street after eight at night. You didn't see this.

The conversation shows a stark contrast between generations: One with a visceral reaction to a much darker past that makes it deeply distrustful of social upheavals and fiercely loyal to a strongman leader; the other, far less risk averse, has only a distant memory from history books and simply is not willing to buy into fear-mongering propaganda designed to keep a few politicians in power. This is perhaps the challenge that neither Putin nor Erdogan may be fully prepared for in their extended political year
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mcauliffe (Hillary) and the Chinese on: April 12, 2017, 03:43:56 PM
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mcauliffe (Hillary) and the Chinese on: April 12, 2017, 03:43:16 PM
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: April 12, 2017, 01:51:28 PM
The Adventure continues!
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rush: Trump was right, Obama got FISA warrant to spy on Trump Team on: April 12, 2017, 01:50:22 PM
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Let us pause to gloat a moment on: April 12, 2017, 01:32:01 PM
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: April 12, 2017, 11:00:32 AM
My understanding has been that they are sedulously working on the ICBM thing AND making bombs small enough to put on them.

The point is to prevent them from having these two things in hand i.e. Nork threats of nuke war at this point in time are empty.
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China's bottom line on: April 11, 2017, 11:49:39 PM
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politico's dubious Chabad story on: April 11, 2017, 11:43:16 PM
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 150,000 Chinese troops on Nork border on: April 11, 2017, 07:41:02 PM
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Notorious RBG and Lindsey Graham on: April 11, 2017, 07:25:45 PM
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why the Russians did not shoot down the Tomahawks on: April 11, 2017, 06:58:27 PM
118  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / United Airlines drag defense on: April 11, 2017, 06:46:11 PM
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chechnya on: April 11, 2017, 04:56:49 PM
Geographically this is not quite right but I did not feel like opening a new thread.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 11, 2017, 01:58:38 PM
Please post in War on Rule of Law as well.
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Liberal fascism, progressivism, and the Chevron decision on: April 11, 2017, 12:08:26 PM
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Trump increases pressure on China to act on: April 11, 2017, 12:05:35 PM

North Korea: U.S. Increases Pressure on China to Act
April 10, 2017 | 20:12 GMT Print
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The U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base on April 6 during the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, at which North Korea's nuclear weapons program was a topic at hand, no doubt sent a clear message to Beijing about the United States' willingness to use military force. Following the strike, the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group was rerouted toward the Korean Peninsula, making that message even more explicit. At a time when the United States is reviewing its policy in dealing with North Korea, the deployment both ramps up military pressure on Pyongyang and broadens U.S. options in the region.

However, the prospect of unilateral military action against North Korea has unnerved U.S. allies. Both Japan and South Korea have expressed concerns about a possible U.S. strike aimed at derailing North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The Japanese Defense Ministry says Tokyo has not been informed of any preparations for an attack and said it would raise objections if it gets indications of a pending attack. The government in Seoul also appeared jittery about the safety and security risks that a preemptive strike would pose.

As the United States considers ways to thwart Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs, a military response remains a credible option, but one that could invite highly costly consequences. Unlike in Syria, Washington cannot assume that North Korea would not respond to an attack in kind. A retaliatory North Korean artillery strike against the South or assaults on U.S. military bases in South Korea and Japan could easily spiral into a wider regional conflict. If a U.S. strike takes place without first consulting China, Beijing's reactions could cause further complications.

And as North Korea's nuclear infrastructure becomes more sophisticated, it grows more difficult to design a military campaign that could eliminate the entire program and facilities, especially in the absence of credible intelligence. Those challenges repeatedly plagued successive U.S. administrations, long delaying any use of force by the United States to deter North Korea. In 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton considered military action against the North, coming the closest any U.S. president has come, but he opted instead to engage in talks in an effort to thwart Pyongyang's nuclear program. North Korea's test of a long-range rocket in 1998 and a new U.S. tone under President George W. Bush's administration in 2001 brought an end to that approach.

With its recent moves, the Trump White House is delivering an ultimatum to the Chinese to either work with the United States in stopping North Korea's drive for a nuclear deterrent or deal with the consequences of U.S. action on secondary sanctions as it develops a credible military option and enlarges its military footprint in the region. Beijing, for its part, continues to urge diplomacy, but it also has shown some willingness to increase pressure on the North as it aims to ease Washington's challenges on trade and on other fronts and simultaneously reassesses its options against Pyongyang.

During an April 10 visit to South Korea by Wu Dawei, China's special envoy in charge of dealing with North Korea's nuclear program, both sides reportedly agreed to adopt "an even stronger U.N. resolution" in the event that the North conducts an additional test of a nuclear weapon. However, any Chinese action in dealing with North Korea will stop short of creating instability in North Korea by cutting Pyongyang's economic lifeline. But as Beijing struggles with its unpredictable and increasingly recalcitrant neighbor, even those in Chinese policy circles are beginning consider a different approach, including a possible decapitation strategy, to bring North Korea's leadership to heel.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Neocon advice for Trump on: April 11, 2017, 12:02:36 PM
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / America First, not America Alone on: April 11, 2017, 12:00:13 PM
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama was the real stooge on: April 11, 2017, 11:34:40 AM
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Silencing of Heather MacDonald on: April 11, 2017, 09:40:53 AM
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What Clapper said in 2003 on: April 11, 2017, 09:31:25 AM
Third post
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Price of Obama's Mendacity on: April 11, 2017, 09:22:00 AM
Second post
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / July 27, 2015-- The Syrian Sham and the Iran Deal on: April 11, 2017, 09:19:14 AM

The Syria Sham and the Iran Deal
Syria cheated on its chemical commitments. Iran will cheat on its nuclear ones. Obama provides cover for both.
A young Syrian victim of a chemical weapons attack, May 22, 2014.
A young Syrian victim of a chemical weapons attack, May 22, 2014. Photo: Reuters
By Bret Stephens
July 27, 2015 7:19 p.m. ET

Once upon a time Barack Obama chose multilateral diplomacy over military action for the sake of ridding a dangerous Middle Eastern regime of its weapons of mass destruction. The critics mocked and raged and muttered, but everything worked out well and now the only thing that’s missing is someone who will give the president credit.

Or so Mr. Obama would like you to believe.

“You’ll recall that that was the previous end of my presidency,” Mr. Obama told the New Yorker’s David Remnick of his September 2013 deal to get Syria’s Bashar Assad to hand over his WMD stockpile, “until it turned out that we are actually getting all the chemical weapons. And no one reports on that anymore.”

Nor were these the only hosannas the president and his advisers sang to themselves for the Syria deal. “With 92.5% of the declared chemical weapons out of the country,” said Susan Rice in May 2014, the U.S. had achieved more than any “number of airstrikes that might have been contemplated would have done.” John Kerry also boasted of his diplomatic prowess in a March 2015 speech: “We cut a deal and were able to get all the chemical weapons out of Syria in the middle of the conflict.”

And there was Mr. Obama again, at a Camp David press conference in May: “Assad gave up his chemical weapons. That’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.”

Note the certitude of these pronouncements, the lordly swagger. Now note the facts. “One year after the West celebrated the removal of Syria’s arsenal as a foreign policy success, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the regime didn’t give up all of the chemical weapons it was supposed to.”

So note the Journal’s Adam Entous and Naftali Bendavid in a deeply reported July 23 exposé that reveals as much about the sham disarmament process in Syria as it foretells about the sham we are getting with Iran.

Start with the formal terms under which inspectors were forced to operate. The deal specified that Syria would give inspectors access to its “declared” chemical-weapons sites, much as Iran is expected to give U.N. inspectors unfettered access to its own declared sites. As for any undeclared sites, inspectors could request access provided they furnish evidence of their suspicions, giving the regime plenty of time to move, hide and deceive—yet another similarity with the Iran deal.

The agreement meant that inspectors were always playing by the regime’s rules, even as Washington pretended to dictate terms. Practical considerations tilted the game even further. “Because the regime was responsible for providing security, it had an effective veto over inspectors’ movements,” the Journal reported. “The team decided it couldn’t afford to antagonize its hosts, explains one of the inspectors, or it ‘would lose all access to all sites.’ ”

In other words, the political need to get Mr. Assad to hand over his declared stockpile took precedence over keeping the regime honest. It helped Mr. Assad that he had an unwitting accomplice in the CIA, whose analysts certified that his chemical declaration “matched what they believed the regime had.” Intelligence analysts at the Pentagon were more skeptical. But their doubts were less congenial to a White House eager to claim a win, and hence not so widely advertised.

You can expect a similar pattern to emerge in the wake of the Iran deal. Western intelligence agencies will furnish policy makers with varying assessments; policy makers will choose which ones to believe according to their political preferences. Tehran will cheat in ambiguous and incremental ways; the administration will play down the violations for the sake of preserving the broader deal.

Over time, defending the deal will become a matter of rationalizing it. As in: At least we destroyed Syria’s declared chemical stockpile. Or: At least we’ve got eyes on Iran’s declared nuclear sites.

Perhaps the most interesting details in the Journal story concerned the sophistication of the Syrian program. Chemical weapons-production facilities were hidden in the trailers of 18-wheel trucks—exactly of the kind that were rumored to have been moved to Syria from Iraq in 2003.


Inspectors were impressed by the quality of Syrian-made munitions. The regime was also able elaborately to disguise its chemical research facilities, even during site visits by inspectors.

The CIA now admits that Syria retains significant quantities of its deadliest chemical weapons. When Mr. Obama announced the Syria deal, he warned that he would use military force in the event that Mr. Assad failed to honor his promises. The threat was hollow then. It is laughable now. What ties the Syrian sham to the Iranian one is an American president bent on conjuring political illusions at home at the expense of strategic facts abroad, his weakness apparent to everyone but himself.

Write to bstephens@wsj.c

130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ/Strassel: Comey's Conflicts on: April 11, 2017, 09:15:38 AM
The Conflicts of J. Edgar Comey
The FBI chief refuses to tell Congress who requested to ‘unmask’ Mike Flynn’s name.
By Kimberley A. Strassel
April 6, 2017 7:20 p.m. ET

We interrupt the Russia-scandal program to ask two simple questions of one of the nation’s top law-enforcement officers: What exactly is FBI Director Jim Comey doing about the only crime that has so far been revealed in this Russia probe? And is he too conflicted even to be doing it?

That crime is of course the leaking that toppled Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The media and Democrats have done their best to avoid covering this, for the simple reason that some of them were complicit. Yet in the entire speculative drama over Russian interference in American elections, so far this is the only crime that is beyond any doubt.

It’s a serious crime, too. Someone in the U.S. government obtained highly classified information about a conversation between an incoming presidential adviser and a foreign official. Someone then leaked Mr. Flynn’s name and the contents of that conversation to the press, resulting in his resignation. As even Mr. Comey recently confirmed, the leaking of such material is an “extraordinarily unusual event.” It is also a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.

Why? Because such leaks expose American intelligence sources and methods, putting national security at risk. Moreover, leaking the names of private citizens under surveillance (with the express intent to cause harm) is among the grossest violations of civil liberties. It is what police states do.

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The Washington Post story about Mr. Flynn’s conversation cited as its sources “nine current and former officials” who “had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.” That means at least nine current or former Obama administration officials or bureaucrats should be looking at criminal charges.
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Opinion Journal: Devin Nunes Did His Job
Main Street Columnist Bill McGurn on the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Which brings us to Mr. Comey. Leaks are in the FBI’s purview, and this case ought to be a slam dunk. Unlike in some leak investigations, Mr. Comey has a trail of bread loaves to follow. Someone in the U.S. government had to take the first step of “unmasking”—requesting the identity of—Mr. Flynn. There are records of such requests, easily accessible by the FBI.

The process is then straightforward: March the unmasker to the FBI and require that official—under oath—to confess if he or she passed Mr. Flynn’s name to the media. If not, demand to know to whom that person gave the information. Track down the leakers. Ask a grand jury to indict.

But there’s also the obvious fact that the FBI is one of only a few agencies with the power to grant an unmasking request. Mr. Comey may well have been involved in granting the request to unmask Mr. Flynn. It’s possible he has known the name of the unmasker for months.

Yet the incredibly political Mr. Comey came to Capitol Hill and refused even to confirm the existence of a leak investigation (in contrast to his eagerness to confirm a probe into possible Trump ties to Russia). Worse, sources tell me that Mr. Comey is willfully obstructing Congress’s own investigation into the leaks. He has refused requests for documents that would show who unmasked Mr. Flynn. He has refused to provide that name in a closed meeting to the speaker of the House or the leaders of intelligence committees.

This is enormously problematic, since Mr. Comey has glaring conflicts of interest here. After all, it is possible Mr. Comey’s staff are among the leakers. He has an interest in avoiding an agency scandal.

Mr. Comey is, in fact, obstructing oversight of his own agency. It is Congress’s duty to investigate failings in the intelligence system. It is Congress that authorizes surveillance programs in the first place. And one of its main jobs is to assure itself and the public that intelligence and law-enforcement agencies aren’t abusing surveillance, violating citizens’ privacy. Can anyone say J. Edgar Hoover ? Mr. Comey should not have the power to stymie an outside investigation into his own agency’s practices.

The obvious answer here is for Mr. Comey to start being transparent to congressional oversight. You’d think his fellow heads of intelligence agencies would be pressuring him to get straight, given the grave risk he’s posing to their own organizations. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, one the government’s most vital snooping tools, expires at the end of this year. I’m told that—given the appalling leak mess, and the Obama administration’s likely abuse of its spying authority—not a single Republican is yet committed to reauthorization.

If the FBI director won’t open up, maybe it’s time for a Justice Department attorney with the appropriate jurisdiction to start an investigation. Because no matter how much Mr. Comey acts the boy scout, he is not above supervision.

Write to
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Marine Le Pen goes revisionist on: April 11, 2017, 09:13:24 AM
Behind Le Pen’s Ideological Face Lift
The National Front leader peddles Holocaust revisionism.
April 10, 2017 8:54 p.m. ET

Marine Le Pen has spent years trying to clean up the French National Front’s image as a party of cranks, anti-Semites and apologists for the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime. Then the mask slid back down on Sunday as the far-right Presidential nominee reminded the world that Holocaust revisionism still lives in the Front.

Ms. Le Pen in an interview said that “France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” a reference to the rounding up of more than 13,000 Jews—including some 4,000 children—in July 1942. Nazi occupiers, with the help of the Vichy regime of Marshal Pétain, crowded the victims into a cycling stadium before dispatching them to concentration camps. The majority were sent to Auschwitz.

Ms. Le Pen lamented how such historical events had been used to teach French children to be ashamed of the French past. She added: “If there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.”

This is an historical evasion. Many French fought the Nazis, but the scale of French collaboration was vast, with some 350,000 French citizens purged or punished postwar for collaboration. Current French President François Hollande and the center-right former President Jacques Chirac have accepted state responsibility for the Vel d’Hiv episode and apologized.

Ms. Le Pen’s remarks suggest backtracking and revisionism, which is why they drew condemnation from France’s Jewish leaders as well as Israel’s foreign ministry.

The comments echoed the National Front of Ms. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie. Mr. Le Pen in 1987 described the Holocaust as a “detail in the history of World War II” and more recently suggested that “Mr. Ebola” could solve the world’s “demographic” problems.

Emmanuel Macron, the centrist independent who is Ms. Le Pen’s main Presidential rival, noted, “Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen.” With the first round of voting less than three weeks away, Ms. Le Pen is alerting voters to what has—and hasn’t—changed in her party.
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Wolfowitz: What comes after the Syria Strikes? on: April 11, 2017, 09:04:19 AM
Bush neocon Wolfowitz makes his case:

What Comes After the Syria Strikes
With American credibility restored, Trump should lead a diplomatic effort to replace Assad.
By Paul Wolfowitz
Updated April 10, 2017 7:32 p.m. ET

Strong American action can dramatically change the attitudes of other countries. It makes enemies more cautious, friends more supportive, and fence-sitters more cooperative. It provides leverage in negotiations and improves opportunities for coalition building. Last week President Trump demonstrated American resolve by retaliating against the Syrian government after Bashar Assad used chemical weapons. Now Mr. Trump must follow through with a broad diplomatic effort to end the country’s bloodshed.

Among the most interesting reactions to the American strike were two from Iraqi Shiite leaders. Last Thursday Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a moderate, and the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand, both called for Mr. Assad to step down. Mr. Sadr predictably denounced the American strike. Mr. Abadi indirectly praised it by noting how Iraqis had suffered from Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons.

These calls for Mr. Assad to step down might seem at odds with the conventional wisdom, which puts the Sunni-Shiite conflict at the heart of everything in the Middle East. Shouldn’t Iraq’s Shiites naturally side with Iran’s Syrian proxy and approve of Mr. Assad’s brutal treatment of Sunni opponents? Yet there are issues more important than the commonly noted sectarian divisions. The people of Iraq know well that the Assad regime has supported the insurgents and suicide bombers who have killed thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of Americans, since 2003. The Bush administration largely turned a blind eye to that support, and President Obama did so even more.

In August 2009 then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded that Syria hand over two Iraqis in Damascus who were believed to be connected to car bombings in Baghdad. The Obama administration, rather than support the Iraqi government—or even demand an investigation—said nothing for a week. The State Department then announced that the U.S. was officially neutral. Last week’s decisive action was a different sort of American signal.

America can now lead the effort to bring some semblance of stability to Syria. Washington should recognize that peace is impossible with Mr. Assad still in power, but also that millions of Syrians—particularly the Christian and Alawite minorities—may feel endangered by the strongman’s departure. The aim should be to replace Mr. Assad’s regime with new governance arrangements that can provide assurance to these minorities while also ending the current government’s oppression of the country’s Sunni majority.

Fashioning such an outcome would require diplomacy of extraordinary creativity. But the U.S. starts with a distinct advantage. Unlike Iran and Russia, America has no interest in exercising control over or acquiring a military position in Syria. To the contrary, as long as the bleeding stops, the U.S. would be happiest to leave Syria to the Syrians. So how can Washington strengthen its diplomatic effort in Syria and at the same time weaken Iranian influence in Iraq?

First, the U.S. should use public diplomacy to highlight the responsibility of the Assad regime for the suffering of thousands of innocent Iraqis over the past 14 years. This effort should also explain, to the extent that evidence is available, Mr. Assad’s efforts to strengthen Islamic State. The dictator has tried to make his regime seem like the only alternative to domination by terrorists. He has done this by attacking Syrian moderates and freeing imprisoned extremists who went on to become ISIS leaders.

The U.S. should encourage Saudi Arabia to play a constructive role in Iraq by using its considerable economic weight to counterbalance Iranian influence. The Saudis have in the past shown a willingness to treat Iraq as an Arab partner and not a Shiite adversary. That realism, which was evident under an earlier Saudi leadership, seems to be re-emerging. Two months ago Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Baghdad, the first such trip in 27 years.

The Trump administration should also counter the mistaken belief that Saudi Arabia prevented the U.S. from supporting the Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Many Iraqis, and even some reputable historians, still believe this. Yet the truth is exactly the opposite. The U.S. should make public the record of Saudi efforts to persuade the first President Bush and President Clinton to support anti-Saddam Shiite rebels. It will be difficult for Saudi-Iraqi relations to develop without countering the belief that Saudi Arabia is partly responsible for mass graves of Iraqi Shiites.

American diplomats should seek to engage the regional Arab players in addressing the difficult challenge of postconflict reconciliation. This will confront Syria in the aftermath of any peace settlement, and it will become important in Iraq once Mosul is liberated. Reconciliation processes that are suited to local cultures and deal with the horrific legacy of totalitarian Arab regimes cannot be overseen by outsiders. But the diplomatic effort should emphasize their importance regardless.

These political and diplomatic actions could complement and reinforce more-concrete measures to change facts on the ground in Syria, such as creating safe zones or imposing some kind of no-fly zone. These efforts will not be simple, nor will they yield immediate results. But this framework would go a long way in addressing the common danger of radical extremism and in stemming the flow of refugees that has become a humanitarian disaster and a threat to U.S. interests.

Mr. Wolfowitz, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has served as deputy defense secretary and ambassador to Indonesia.

Appeared in the Apr. 11, 2017, print edition.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Obama's Debt Interest Bomb on: April 11, 2017, 08:58:12 AM
Obama’s Debt Interest Bomb
Rising interest payments are already showing up in the federal fisc.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Photo: yuri gripas/Reuters
April 10, 2017 7:11 p.m. ET

President Obama left his successor many time bombs—think chemical weapons in Syria and the collapsing Affordable Care Act. But a burning fuse that gets less attention showed its first signs of the explosion to come in Friday’s Congressional Budget Office budget review for March: Rising net interest payments on the national debt.

CBO reported that the federal budget deficit rose $63 billion in the first half of fiscal 2017 (October-March) to $522 billion from a year earlier. But here’s the especially bad omen: Net interest payments rose $7 billion, or 30%, in March from a year earlier.
The Fed's Budget BonusFederal Reserve remittances to theU.S. Treasury, 2007-2016, in billions ofdollarsSource: Federal ReserveNote: 2015 not including $19.3 billion payment from Fedcapital surplus mandated by the FAST Act.

If that seems small, consider that interest payments rose $28 billion for the six months of fiscal 2017 to $152 billion. That’s a 22.2% increase, among the biggest in any single spending item highlighted by CBO. The increases reflect the growing debt but in particular the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates after years of near-zero rates.

While Mr. Obama was doubling the national debt over eight years, the Fed’s monetary policies spared him from the fiscal consequences. The Fed’s near-zero policy kept interest rates at historic lows that reduced net interest payments even as the overall debt increased. The Fed’s bond-buying programs also earned money that the Fed turned over to Treasury each year, reducing the size of the federal budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars.

This not-so-free Fed lunch is starting to end. CBO estimates that $160 billion more spending will be required each year over the next decade if interest rates are merely one percentage point higher than in its current projections. As interest rates rise, the Fed will also have to pay banks more to keep excess reserves parked at the central bank. After its latest rate increase in March, the Fed now pays banks 1% on reserve balances or about $20 billion a year, and that will go up.

Fed officials are also now hinting that this year they may finally stop buying new securities when the current bonds on its balance sheet come due. This is necessary and long overdue, but it will mean smaller Fed contributions to the federal budget than the more than $90 billion the Fed has turned over in recent years. (See the nearby chart.)

All of this is set to explode on President Trump’s watch, and it will complicate the task for Republicans as they try to reform the tax code within tighter budget constraints.

Mr. Obama didn’t expect a Republican to succeed him but we doubt he regrets this result. He was able to live off the eight years of accommodative Fed policy while seeding the federal fisc with ever-higher spending from interest payments and the Affordable Care Act after he leaves office. Mr. Trump is stuck with the bar tab. It’s one more mess Mr. Obama left others to clean up.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: April 11, 2017, 08:07:31 AM
Good post.

Minor comment: 

"Here in Mexico, per INEGI and IMSS, men suffer 90% of the workplace fatalities"

My understanding is that in the US the number is 95%.
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Commanders Cautious after Syria Strike on: April 11, 2017, 07:56:33 AM

U.S. Commanders in Cautious Mood After Syria Strike
April 9, 2017 | 15:19 GMT Print
Text Size
An F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft refuels prior to strike operations against the Islamic State in Syria. Such missions will be more cautious after the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base. (Maj. Jefferson S. Heiland/U.S. Air Force via Getty Images)

Even before launching the missile strike on the Syrian government-controlled Shayrat air base, the United States knew the risks to its anti-Islamic State campaign and its wider operations in the country would grow substantially. After all, U.S. aircraft fly within range of Syrian and Russian air defense systems every day, and U.S. forces are present on the ground in Syria, in some cases such as in Manbij, within proximity of Syrian loyalist troops.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. military and its allies are adopting a cautious stance in Syria while they assess the changed dynamics and monitor signs of any moves to retaliate over the Shayrat missile strike. The New York Times, for instance, reported April 8 that the U.S.-led coalition in Syria has sharply curtailed its air operations over Syria. Instead, it's relying on highly survivable aircraft such as the stealth F-22 for essential missions over the country. This caution has been further driven by the Russian withdrawal from the 2015 deconfliction agreement with the United States, which was designed to limit the potential for accidental encounters between U.S.-led coalition aircraft and Russian aircraft over Syria.

While coalition flight operations over Syria could quickly revert back to their normal pace as the United States assesses the operating environment, U.S.-led coalition forces will still have to remain at a heightened state of alert for the foreseeable future. Worries include not only an accidental collision with Russian forces or retaliation ordered by the Syrian high command in Damascus, but also the highly fragmented state of the Syrian military after more than six years of war. A local officer or powerful Syrian field commander, going rogue, could conceivably elect to open fire on U.S. aircraft independent of the Syrian loyalist chain of command. There have already been unconfirmed reports of loyalist-manned anti-aircraft gunfire directed at U.S. spy drones flying over the province of al-Hasaka in northeastern Syria. Before the April 7 strike, Syrian forces generally gave a wide berth to U.S. anti-Islamic State operations, in a sort of unofficial acceptance.

Situations like these can rapidly escalate in a conflict such as Syria, with the United States increasingly involved in a civil war that has already drawn in so many nations.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: April 11, 2017, 07:46:35 AM
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Peggy Noonan wins Pulitzer on: April 11, 2017, 07:39:18 AM
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Strategy Bridge on: April 03, 2017, 07:35:29 PM
Have not read this yet but it looks promising.
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Eric Prince set up back channel meeting? on: April 03, 2017, 04:53:08 PM
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkish intel using mosques to spy? on: April 03, 2017, 04:26:27 PM
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkish intel using mosques to spy? on: April 03, 2017, 04:25:44 PM
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Visa overstays the bigger problem on: April 03, 2017, 04:23:50 PM
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This had to go to a federal appeals court! on: April 03, 2017, 04:20:13 PM
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mosque honors jihadi assassin on: April 03, 2017, 04:19:03 PM
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A bit more on Operation Fast & Furious (OFF) 2.0 on: April 03, 2017, 04:16:53 PM
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VA can't fire employees watching porn at work on: April 03, 2017, 04:03:46 PM
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / King Addullah of Jordon in DC for talks. on: April 03, 2017, 03:20:20 PM
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Trump-Russia Accusations and the possible Silent Coup on: April 03, 2017, 03:15:20 PM
Again , , ,  rolleyes
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: April 03, 2017, 02:08:45 PM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanders defends Trump voters on: April 03, 2017, 02:08:15 PM
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